Microfiction: At the Temple of Healing, by T.C. Mill

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At the Temple of Healing
by T.C. Mill

The priest’s eyes were bright blue in the light of the oil lamp he had brought. Their focus never wavered as he inspected Alexis’s new arm.

“Can you move your fingers?” His voice was soft and clear, gentle yet impersonal. But his fingers ran over Alexis’s restored palm in a gesture more like a caress than a professional examination.

He’d been the same the day before, when he examined the broken remains of Alexis’s right hand and arm. Gentle and careful, with a hint of tenderness. He had peered so closely at the shattered bones that his breath ghosted over them like kisses. Alexis hadn’t minded the brief pain their touch brought.

Now Alexis thought of a motion, impulse shifting sluggishly from nerves to wires to clockwork, and then the metal fingers of his right arm closed over the priest’s hand.

The man’s breath caught, and then he smiled. “Very good.”

Alexis released him, but his hand didn’t move away.

“How do you feel?” the priest asked.

“Relieved, I guess. Grateful. This will change my life.” No longer a cripple, he could work again, painting the delicate patterns on the urns and amphora in his uncle’s pottery shop. He had always been so talented, fingers sure of every motion they made. “I’m good as new.”

“Really?”

Alexis looked down at the hand in his. He knew it was there, but even so he hardly felt it.

“What’s it like?” the priest asked gently.

Alexis raised the metal arm and pressed his palm to the priest’s cheek. He saw it there, silver against olive flesh, pressing hard enough to drive the color from the skin. He felt a distant warmth. “Like the world’s heaviest glove.”

“I understand.”

“Do you really?”

The priest sighed, then stood up. He parted his long robes and brought his left leg forward. It gleamed copper in the lamplight.

“Ah,” Alexis said.

The top seam of the leg ran along the man’s thigh. Alexis traced it with his living hand, felt warm skin beside hard metal plating, cool and polished smooth. The muscle jumped beneath his fingers, and the priest’s breath caught.

Alexis pushed the robe farther aside, revealing his erection. He looked up and met the bright blue eyes. After a moment, the priest nodded.

Alexis reached out and stroked his length from base to head with one metal finger. He hardened further, and even through the metal Alexis could feel the flush of blood, of heat. Slowly, carefully, he wrapped his fingers around the priest’s member and began to stroke it. His palm and fingers warmed from the contact with flesh, grew slick with a film of sweat so that they slid easier, faster. Alexis found himself smiling. So he had retained some skill with this hand, after all.

In moments the man’s hips rocked, thrusting into his hand. Alexis felt himself stiffening in response. Then warm fingers closed over his metal ones, and the priest stepped away from him. He stripped off his robe entirely, then removed Alexis’s tunic. Slowly, he knelt in his lap, metal and living legs straddling Alexis’s thighs. Raising his hand to his mouth, he moistened the palm thoroughly and gripped Alexis’s cock, slicking him.

Alexis grasped his hip to guide him down—his left hip, Alexis’s fingers running again over the metal plating of his leg.

“It’s all right,” the priest said.

At first Alexis thought he was being given permission, and indeed the way he traced the border between metal and flesh seemed to please the priest, even as they came together in a way that made lesser pleasures hard to puzzle out. But the blue eyes were boring into his, and a hand held his upper arm tightly as if its nail would dig into the steel. He felt the warmth of the touch.

“Yes,” he said, as metal and flesh moved together in a timeless pattern. “It’s all right.”

  T.C. Mill studies philosophy, watches too much BBC TV, and writes her next story on the world’s smallest netbook at home in a pleasant town in Wisconsin. Dreamspinner Press has published her fantasy novelette “After the War” and “A Spell of Passion or Fear,” a novella set in a steampunk version of Plato’s Republic. Her author’s website is tc-mill.com.  

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